Alcohol protests once again top the Bethel City Council meeting agenda. On Tuesday, the Council will consider protesting two liquor store applications: one for the Tundra Liquor Cache submitted by Steve Chung to turn his auto shop on Hoffman Road into a liquor store, and the other from the Alaska Commercial Company to add a liquor store by Brown’s Slough on Bridge Avenue.
A draft protest from Council Member Fred Watson says that increased traffic around the Tundra Liquor Cache could negatively impact pedestrian safety and that the business has not received the required permit from the city to pursue a license. The City Planning Commission will consider issuing that permit on Thursday, two days after the Council considers its protest. The Council could chose to issue a protest with a provision to drop it if the business receives the required permit.
The draft protest for the AC liquor store application on Bridge Avenue comes from Council Member Leif Albertson. The protest for this site is much longer. One of the main reasons for opposition is that the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board sent the city notice of the application a month late. The clerical error slashed the amount of time the city has to review the application and the time that citizens have to comment on it.
The draft protest goes on to say that the business has not submitted an application for the required city permit or a Fire Marshal plan. It continues, saying that police responded to 99 calls around the site over the past year, many of them involving alcohol, a number Albertson's draft calls “excessive and determines the location... is not conducive to the neighborhood.” The City Manager reports that nearby the location, at the small boat harbor, intoxicated people are found every day during the summer barely able to walk and sleeping on the ground or in the bushes. Lastly, Bethel only receives three liquor store licenses. AC already holds one of these licenses and the draft protest does not support the company holding two.
Tuesday is the Council’s last chance to protest the liquor store applications before the Alaska Alcoholic Beverage Control Board decides whether to issue Bethel’s third and final liquor license on April 6.
At Tuesday’s meeting the Council will also consider increasing ambulance service fees, adopting a rewrite of the laws governing the Bethel Port, and more. Tune in at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March, 28 to listen to the meeting live on KYUK.